Impeachment case collapsing: what is the upshot?
The US Senate on Friday voted against the questioning of witnesses in impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump by 51 to 49. As a result, the testimony of former security advisor John Bolton will not be heard. The US president is expected to be acquitted on Wednesday of charges of abuse of power and obstructing investigations. Commentators explain what the early end of the proceedings means.
Impeachment without witnesses? Unprecedented!
The manner in which the proceedings have developed raises questions about the state of democracy and the rule of law in the US, De Volkskrant comments:
“Since Trump's election there have been concerns about his undemocratic attitude and lack of respect for the rule of law. The American system provides for checks and balances, one of which is an independent Senate. However, in the impeachment process the Republican majority cynically subjected the Senate's control function to its partisan ties to the president. ... The Republicans have decided to protect Trump. A novelty in political history: never before has an impeachment process ended without witnesses being heard. One can only hope that voters will punish the Republicans for this in November.”
50-50 is not a broad consensus
Economics professor Konstantin Sonin, who teaches in Moscow and Chicago, praises the foresight of the founding fathers. In a Facebook post republished by newsru.com he writes:
“The procedure is such that a president loses his office if he has done something that upsets the citizens so much that two-thirds of the senators agree with the accusations. But if there are fewer, he stays in office - because the main mechanism for expressing dissatisfaction with the president is elections. ... Trump will be pardoned by the Senate, which is exactly how the authors of the constitution intended this to be. Removal from office is intended for situations in which there is a broad consensus in society about its necessity. Fifty-fifty is far from that. US citizens will have the opportunity next November to elect Trump for a second term - or not.”
Acquittal will make Trump more unscrupulous
The Independent fears Donald Trump will be even more unruly after the impeachment proceedings:
“After this trial, prepare for an even more unhinged President Trump. The day after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, he told Russian officials in the Oval Office that he fired 'nutjob' Comey and the 'pressure' from the Russia investigation was taken off. The day after Special Counsel Robert Mueller's hearings, Trump called President Zelensky and pressured him to investigate the Bidens. What will Trump do the day after his acquittal? If Senate Republicans acquit Trump, they will be emboldening a lawless president and weakening the legislative branch as a whole.”
Plenty of campaign ammunition for the Democrats
The Democrats could still benefit from the proceedings despite their defeat, writes Washington correspondent Jan Bösche on Deutschlandfunk:
“The Democrats will do all they can to ensure that the impeachment process is not forgotten. ... The Democrats will keep bringing up the president's transgressions and the Republicans' submissive willingness to protect him in the election campaign against the president and also in the race for seats in Congress. The Democrats could be helped by more and more new details coming to light. Without the formal framework of a ballot in the Senate, the information, suspicions and rumours will flow all the easier.”